The 18th Man Column: ‘Time will tell in this long Shaun Edwards story’

Our panel of Wigan Warriors fans have their say on this week's rugby league issues.

Thursday, 21st March 2019, 8:52 am
Updated Thursday, 21st March 2019, 9:58 am
Will he or won't he? The Shaun Edwards saga has been described as 'a huge embarrassment all round'

What’s your take on the Shaun Edwards saga?

Robert Kenyon: If the club haven’t sent Shaun Edwards a contract to sign, I think it’s unprofessional not to, or at best very naive. He is a highly sought after defence coach in rugby union and could and will walk into a top job anywhere in that sport. To not nail his signature down is very unprofessional if true. And with no contract signed, he is a free agent soon so is free to sign wherever. The club needs to pull their finger out and get him signed, but also dip their hand in their pocket to allow him to bring a union player with him, Finn Russell from Scotland would be nice but he’d come at a price. I’m sure Edwards has a few names up his sleeve that would work if he was backed financially. Either way, it needs sorting ASAP. And if he’s yanking the club’s chain then that wouldn’t go down well at all, a lot of people would be upset with him if he was, I hope it’s just a misunderstanding.

Jeanette Lusher: I haven’t got a take on the Shaun Edwards saga! As a supporter I see my role as getting behind the team and leaving the politics and administration to others. Ian Lenagan and Kris Radlinski, I feel, will handle matters with aplomb and integrity. I further believe that whatever the outcome they will act in the best interests of the club as they have done throughout Ian’s tenure. The season is proving to be a very turbulent one and the media are revelling in both the on field struggle and the off-field turmoil! This must be so unsettling for coach and players alike coming on top of the salary cap saga so the priority for supporters must be to concentrate their efforts on being loud and proud and urging the lads on to better times and victory.

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Darren Wrudd: What a terrible industry this is sometimes. The speculation from the press began about 30 seconds after the initial announcement of the Lam/Edwards arrangement and ever since then it seems that pressure has built and questions asked that perhaps fuel the uncertainty and drive the situation forward and into another direction.

I am much more interested in the current situation and whether Mr Edwards decides to come back to Wigan and bless us with his skill and experience as a successful coach – either it will or won’t happen. Time will tell and I am happy to wait.

Jon Lyon: It’s a huge embarrassment all round. Wigan should never have announced Edwards had signed on for next year if he hasn’t signed an actual contract. However, I feel Shaun has been very disrespectful by playing this out in the media. If, as he seems to say, he agreed a deal verbally and hasn’t heard for nine months from Wigan, why not pick up the phone and call Lenagan or Radlinski?

His account of what has happened is less believable by the minute as the Wales coach is also questioning what Shaun has said. Personally I think we should draw a line under the matter and find someone else. This is hardly a great starting point for a professional relationship, and if Edwards would rather talk to the media than to the club in private, do we really want him at Wigan? If he was looking for sympathy, his actions have badly backfired.

Joe Burgess and Dom Manfredi return this week... Tom Davies and Morgan Escare were wingers last weekend. Who should miss out?

Robert Kenyon: Both for me, Burgess and Manfedi are out and out wingers so for that reason Escare would drop out and I think both are a lot more dangerous than Davies. Though Davies works like a Trojan I think Manfredi and Burgess have more strike power. Escare is good to have on the bench as cover for the back line.

Jeanette Lusher: Such a tricky question indeed! I would start the game with Manfredi and Davies on the wings as they are both strong lads who can take the ball up and help relieve the forwards. Salford are a hefty set and these two wingers can support our centres in handling big opponents such as Junior S’au! The dilemma comes with which person misses out and for me that is Burgess as Escare is more versatile and is match fit. Sadly with the fewer interchanges a team cannot afford the luxury of a recognised winger on the bench. However if I let my heart rule my head then Burgess would definitely be playing!

Darren Wrudd: No doubt that if they are fit, both Manfredi and Burgess will get first shout, but team selection can be a bitter pill sometimes. Davies upped his efforts by some distance last time out and Escare can bring energy to a struggling attacking line in a heartbeat. A spare back liner on the bench can be a good thing and Escare seems to be the obvious choice for his versatility, but Gildart and Sarginson at centres leaves little space for sentiment when we need some points on the board.

Jon Lyon: Poor Tom Davies. A solid seven out of 10 every week, apart from a few dropped balls he’s done nothing wrong in his time in a Wigan shirt and is reliable and dependable. In honesty though, with the way we are creating very little for our wingers I think we need the potential X factor of Burgess and Manfredi, who I think have more chance of creating something from nothing than Davies or Escare.

If Marshall wasn’t injured I would suggest loaning one of our wingers to Wakefield for some game time now the luckless Tom Johnstone is out for the season, but we need some cover for ourselves.

Do you think Wigan will beat Salford on Sunday?

Robert Kenyon: Not unless they start playing together as a team and for each other, there seems to be no communication between the players on the pitch especially in defence and especially our goal line defence.

The game is away and Salford have started the season well, but if we play to our full potential then yes we will win but if we carry on the way we have been then no. I’d hope Lammy now has a decent idea of who his spine is in the team, but with the speculation surrounding George Williams it will sew the seeds of uncertainty within the team so it needs resolving as soon as.

I think Leulaui needs to stay at 9, it’s his best position and our best option there, is keen to see Sammut given a go at 7 but would like to see Shorrocks there too at some point.

For me, the team look to be lacking confidence and aren’t working smart enough. They’re running hard, working hard, etc but they’re not playing smart or working smart and they’ve certainly not gelled so that needs work too. Whether it’s a weekend away, an open discussion or dealing with an issue within the team it needs to be done and sharpish.

I may come across as negative but I’m not going to be a happy clapper and bury my head and say all is well, it isn’t. We’ve had the worst start to a season since 2006 when we nearly got relegated, people need to wake up and smell the coffee.

Like 2006 I’d be very tempted to dip into the transfer market and look at bringing in one or two players now.

A proven backrower to make up for the loss of Liam Farrell who was in tremendous form before he got injured, and to replace Bateman.

Maybe since the furore has long since died down sign Joel Tomkins or Matty Ashurst from Wakefield, he’s a local lad too and a scrum half or a hooker.

Maybe try and get Lachlan Lam on a short term loan deal or if we are resigned to losing George Williams go out and buy Jacob Trueman from Castleford.

Jeanette Lusher: I was very heartened by the team performance last Friday and feel that much confidence and self belief has been restored. I am still puzzled by several refereeing decisions made in that game and admired the way that the lads responded and never let their heads go down. Every match we have been blighted by injuries and have had to play several players out of position. Hopefully on Sunday we shall be starting the game with four experienced props in Flower, Clubb, Bullock and Navarrete along with Leuluai at hooker thus giving us plenty of power in the engine room! The half back combination of Shorrocks and Williams was effective at Warrington and then to have a choice of recognised wingers available in Davies, Burgess and Manfredi is a huge bonus. So for these reasons I do think that Wigan will beat Salford on Sunday.

Darren Wrudd: If we continue to improve as we did last week, then I have little doubt that a victory is on the cards. Salford have shown some silky skills this year and are being led around the park well by their half backs. Belief seems to flow at the AJ Bell stadium and they are a confident side this year. But, we have been a hair’s breadth away from a performance a couple of times this year and last week’s efforts saw a game plan that was largely stuck to. More width on the plays and a few less snatched passes going to ground and we give ourselves a chance.

Jon Lyon: Yes, the confident supporter in me saw enough in the match against Warrington to think we have a good chance. If we can defend for 80 minutes as we did and hopefully find more cohesiveness, not necessarily helped by changing wingers again, then I would like to think we have enough talent to beat Salford, we just need the work ethic to go with it.

Salford have been excellent so far, but as long as we put enough pressure on Hastings and Robert Lui, as we did against Blake Austin, then we should come out on top.

Finally, after six rounds, who is your prediction to finish bottom of the table?

Robert Kenyon: London, they have made a good start but they lack the quality in their squad to mount a serious attempt to stay up.

Us, Leeds and Huddersfield at in the bottom three but have enough quality in the squads to make sure we don’t finish the season there.

It’s a very long and tiring season and my feeling is that London Broncos will finish bottom of the table.

They have a small squad and their u19 players, I feel, would struggle to provide cover should the first team sustain serious injuries or suspensions. London also has to cope with a great deal of travelling to away matches.

The club should however be commended for resisting the temptation to overhaul the squad in the close season and for keeping faith with their youngsters but it is certainly a big ask to survive this year in Super League.

Jeanette Lusher: It’s a very long and tiring season and my feeling is that London Broncos will finish bottom of the table.

They have a small squad and their u19 players, I feel, would struggle to provide cover should the first team sustain serious injuries or suspensions. London also has to cope with a great deal of travelling to away matches. The club should however be commended for resisting the temptation to overhaul the squad in the close season and for keeping faith with their youngsters but it is certainly a big ask to survive this year in Super League.

Darren Wrudd: Leeds I think will struggle for the rest of the year and with a new chief executive of Super League who seemed to get everyone’s support other than Hetherington, is it beyond the realms of belief that he prefers to be under the watchful protection of the RFL who have had his back for so long. I bet he will enjoy the Championship in 2020, Just think of the fantastic derbies on offer at Dewsbury, Batley or Halifax. They might even win a couple of those.

Jon Lyon: As much as I would love to say Leeds, and they are certainly not showing much at the moment, I think over the whole season injuries will eventually catch up with London.

Despite their excellent start, and they have been a breath of fresh air, their squad isn’t the deepest with Super League talent, and a few bad results in a row could see a slide that is difficult to stop. I hope I am wrong though, as Danny Ward is doing a great job.